Today, London Mayor Sadiq Khan described the gender pay gap in the capital as “unacceptable” after he revealed figures showing differences of up to 35% between the pay of men and women in public organisations, and the gender pay gap for all full-time workers in London is 11.9%, compared with 9.4% across the UK.
What people forget is that whilst we’ve come a long way from women and men being entirely divided, we are still not there yet. We are still not equal. Fundamentally, there is a stigma attached to women, and until it is ingrained in all of us that we are, in fact, different, we cannot be considered equal.
Hear me out with this one.
Equality for men and women doesn’t mean that we are the same, or should act so.
Where a man may get angry in frustration, a woman may get upset. It’s in our basic DNA to act differently because we are born different.
We have different qualities and different flaws. When put in an difficult situation, whilst a man may be called angry, or dominant, a woman is branded sensitive, emotional, incapable. Weak.
The point is, whilst we react in different ways, it doesn’t mean that I, as a woman, am weaker.
Just because I cry instead of act violently shouldn’t affect the way I’m perceived. I am not weak because I cope with tough situations in my own way, I’m not incapable because I’d rather turn quiet than shout loud. I’m not weak because I can’t control the emotion which overcomes me, because I care.
Women have suffered, and continue to suffer, with inequality, glass ceilings, pay gaps and an endless stream of hurtful jokes at our expense.
If a woman reacts to injustice, we’re ‘on our period’, if we speak up or oppose an idea with our opinion, ‘were too opinionated or demanding’, if we take charge, ‘we’re bossy’.
Women shouldn’t have to act like men to be treated the same, or act or look a certain way to appeal. It should be a given that two people, of equal ability, regardless of gender, who may or may not react in different ways, be treated the same.
As women, we already put enough pressure on ourselves to live up to society’s expectation of us, to be taken seriously we must have a career, wear makeup and nice clothes, figure out when we want children, and then whether that will affect the careers we’ve spent years forging.
We have to act feminine but not TOO feminine, look nice, but not have put in TOO much effort. To be skinny but still eat, to live up to the standard which Instagram, the media and society in general set us.
Balancing life and being taken seriously is a challenge in itself – being kind but not walked over, but not ‘bossy’ or overbearing, to be able to ‘take a joke’. We’re not allowed to show emotion because it it portrayed as weakness.
It’s infuriating because those whom haven’t experienced this pressure, presume it doesn’t exist. It’s presumed that because we live in 2016, women and men are treated equally, but statistics prove that we are not. Experience and testimonials prove we’re not.
Hillary Clinton nearly broke the ultimate glass ceiling earlier this month. Nearly. Instead she lost to a white man with no previous political experience, who deemed it appropriate to pass off ‘grabbing women by the pussy’ as ‘locker room talk’. Who has a track record of sexualising, degrading and disregarding women. Who said he’d try it on with his own daughter if he wasn’t her father.
I could go on and on and on. But we are the generation of change. We are the generation who can bring about equality for men and women. To not pass off sexist, disgusting remarks or normalise being sexualised daily.
We are the generation who will prove that men and women can be equal – and women don’t have to act, look or be a certain way for it to happen.